Roy Gunter, an early resident of Overland Park, founded Gunter Pest Management in 1950. De-Bug, as we were loosely named, began in the township of Lake Lotawana, Missouri. Now known as Kansas City’s Most Trusted Pest Control Company.
While flashy billboards and advertisements weren’t really within the budget, Roy put stickers in the client’s basements. When discovered, each sticker had his name, the service date, and phone number listed. Many of these stickers could be found in basements throughout the metro today!
Though founded from humble beginnings, our reputation for quality service was spreading across the metro. It wasn’t long before Roy was being requested throughout Kansas City and Johnson County.
As business grew, Roy’s health began to fail. It was then, that first cousin, Reggie “L.R.” Gunter joined the family business. Reggie and wife, Betty, continued their humble business from their home in Armour Hills, a classic and central Kansas City neighborhood. In the Fall, 1958 what was “De-Bug” (and later, of course, Gunter Pest Management) became known as “L.R. Gunter, the Bugman.” Virtually all new business was derived from recommendations from satisfied neighbors and friends. Reggie was quick to coin a clever motto; “ask your neighbor!” which it seems that over the years over half of KC has done just that!
In those early days, Betty took the calls while Reggie worked out in the field. Betty used to reminisce about the times when they didn’t even have enough money to purchase a desk, and she spent all day answering the phones from her workspace on the living room floor. Reggie also started a filing system where he would keep track of when each client’s one-year treatment was due and sent out a postcard to remind them to call for service. We have now used this system for nearly 60 years!
Reggie, himself, kept up with all service until close to his 60th birthday in 1962. At 60, he just couldn’t continue to keep up with the growing demand of the business. He then hired his first employee, Harold Slaughter. Our owner Jay has never been sure where his Grandfather met Harold but knows that he was very skilled with customers. He was a chauffeur most of his life, and definitely learned the art of small talk. Growing up, Jay used to ride with Harold in the summers and watched as he “worked the ladies.” Never in a crude way, but he had a fantastic routine. He’d always pick up the newspaper in the front yard and hand it to the client (usually a lady) on the way in. He’d then pat the family dog’s head, and proceed to ask for any and all updates in her life since the year before. Harold was a true gentleman, and over the years became an iconic representative of our company. He was with us so long (until the 1980s) that many people assumed that he was Mr. Gunter. Sometimes, Harold would correct them and sometimes he wouldn’t bother. It was no concern of the Gunter’s, Harold had that special personality that clients were looking for. He was like a second grandfather to our owner, Jay. He always treated him with the same respect he provided the clients. He taught Jay, not only the technical aspects of the pest business but the finer points of customer relations.
He always treated him with the same respect he provided the clients. He taught Jay, not only the technical aspects of the pest business but the finer points of customer relations.
Jay Gunter Besheer clearly loved spending time with his Grandparents and Harold. He spent his childhood and teenage summers alongside the “Bugman” team, often entertaining the homeowners as the service was performed. In the later years of Reggie’s life, his son in law and Jay’s father came aboard as well. Norman O. Besheer left his career in Law, becoming president after Reggie’s death in 1979. Under Norman’s and Jay’s leadership modern day, Gunter Pest Management came to be. In 2001, Gunter acquired A&L Pest Control; A&L was one of the premier pest management firms in Greater Kansas City, with over 20,000 satisfied clients at the time of the merger. The merger of A&L and Gunter formed one of the largest pest management firms in the Midwest. Other purchases throughout the years include Cleartox Termite Control, Johnson & Johnson Pest Control, Beaman Pest Control, Allied Exterminators, Woodbury Pest Control (St. Joseph) and Power Pest Control (St. Joseph).
As of 2017, Gunter now has over 27 employees and 100,000 clients. We use the newest technology in our field, and continue to put customers first as we did in our beginnings. Nearly 68 years later, we are still confident “the only bugs you’ll want at your home are ours!”